Europe is behaving in a dangerously two-faced way when it comes to protecting the world’s climate, Christian Aid warned today (Thursday) as the UN climate talks in Bonn draw to a close.
"European Union leaders claim they still support the only existing climate deal that has legal teeth – the Kyoto Protocol - but their actions tell a different story," said Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change.
"By not giving the Protocol their strongest possible support and by allowing other rich countries to abandon Kyoto and instead make weak, non-binding pledges through the Copenhagen Accord, they are condemning Kyoto to death.
"Since many other rich countries want to let the Protocol expire, only enthusiastic backing from the European Union will save it now. We urge European leaders to seize the remaining opportunity in Bonn to show leadership on climate change."
Extending the Kyoto Protocol is by far the world’s best hope of preventing dangerous climate change, says Christian Aid.
Under the Copenhagen Accord, countries would merely pledge the emissions cuts which they feel are politically expedient, even though this may mean loss of lives, livelihoods and dignity for people living in poverty in vulnerable countries, say campaigners. The Accord has no built-in assessment of whether emissions cuts are deep enough to keep the global temperature rise below 2oC. Nor does it have legal force.
Dr Doig added: "Another concern is that many rich nations are demanding a series of ‘loopholes’ which will allow the worst polluters to wriggle out of making the deep cuts that are urgently needed by all of us, but especially by the world’s poorest people. By creative accounting of existing carbon credits and emissions from forestry, these loopholes could allow many rich countries to continue to emit carbon at their current rates for many years to come."
In addition to throwing their political weight behind the Kyoto Protocol in Bonn, European environment ministers have a second opportunity to boost the world’s climate when they meet on Friday in Luxembourg.
Their agenda includes a decision about whether Europe should unilaterally increase the emissions cuts it is prepared to make by 2020 from 20 to 30 per cent. Christian Aid is urging them to back domestic cuts of 30 per cent – although it says this is still inadequate. To give the world a good chance of keeping the temperature rise below 2oC, rich countries need to make cuts of at least 40 per cent, the aid agency says.